Mass was celebrated by Cardinal Robert Sarah, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments
Zagreb, (IKA) – “From what I can gather, I have realized that the faith of this city is profoundly connected with the Blessed Virgin Mary. It is by no means a coincidence that your ancestors placed the Blessed Virgin at the city gate. Everything is placed beneath Our Lady’s loving maternal gaze,” said Cardinal Robert Sarah, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, on Tuesday, May 31, 2016, who led the Mass on the occasion of celebration of the Feast of Our Lady of the Stone Gate.
The 25th jubilee anniversary of the celebration of the Feast of the Protectress of the City of Zagreb was concelebrated by the Archbishop of Zagreb, Cardinal Josip Bozanić; the Apostolic Nuncio in the Republic of Croatia, Msgr. Alessandro D’Errico; the Metropolitan Archbishop of Rijeka, Msgr. Ivan Devčić; the Archbishop Emeritus of Đakovo-Osijek, Msgr. Marin Srakić, a number of bishops from Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as many priests.
At the beginning of the Eucharistic celebration, Cardinal Bozanić welcomed Cardinal Sarah and the faithful to the Zagreb Cathedral, the house of God, a place of daily prayer and confession, a place where souls are cleansed by Divine Mercy, a place of supplication where grace is received. He said that today we are especially praying for the Croatian homeland and its citizens, and for the entire Croatian nation in the homeland and around the world, for the Croatian war veterans who liberated our country for us and made it possible for us to live in freedom, for those entrusted with authority, that they will conscientiously and responsibly, in a manner that promotes unity, resolve the outstanding issues in order to create the conditions for building a better future for our beautiful homeland.
The homily was delivered by Cardinal Sarah, who said that even during the most sensitive historical moments, Our Lady has always protected and safeguarded the Croatian people, showing the Way, and that the Croatian nation, despite the political system that has oppressed them, has not denied Jesus because it has been aware that He alone is the Way that leads to genuine good and the fulfillment of life.
According to St. Augustine, Christians who live the experience of God are “citizens of the heavenly city, the City of God,” said Cardinal Sarah, noting that Blessed Alojzije Stepinac testifies to how God makes the poor who have faith rich. Cardinal Sarah further noted that Blessed Alojzije was aware that everything depends on the Lord. He was a man who was deeply in love with the Blessed Virgin and, strengthened by this bond with Mary, gave his whole life in service to God and his fellow men, especially the least and the abandoned.
Cardinal Sarah stated that Stepinac did not renounce his Catholic faith and asked how many Christians today, before all those who oppose our faith, would again say, as did Blessed Alojzije: “Yes, I am a Christian.”
The Church of martyrs, said Cardinal Sarah, is a living Church that breeds confidence amidst the disorder and confusion of our time. Let us never become discouraged before ideologies and their satanic strategies by which they want to destroy the Church, marriage, family, doctrine, morality and God’s commandments, because the Mother of God is always with us and supports us in moments of trial. She is the guardian of our holiness.
The celebration of the Feast of Our Lady of the Stone Gate concluded with a solemn procession from the Zagreb Cathedral to the Stone Gate, with devotional prayer led by Cardinal Bozanić. Cardinal Sarah gave the final blessing.
In addition to the Mayor of Zagreb, Milan Bandić, and representatives of the city authorities, the Mass was also attended by representatives of numerous municipal organizations, from the fire department to veterans’ associations.
As a token of gratitude, Cardinal Bozanić presented Cardinal Sarah with a bronze relief of Our Lady of the Stone Gate, a work by the academic sculptor Tomislava Kršnjavi.